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  • Writer's pictureNadine Bennett

Catching up on chilly swims

I'm behind in posting stuff, but something I’ve been dying to share is my newfound love for cold water swimming. What, who me? The chick who usually jacks up the heat and can’t sleep at night without her thick Peruvian wool blanket? The girl who can’t take a bath without draining a little water every 5 mins to add more hot? Yep, me.

Saturday, Sept 26 2015 – Meech Lake approx 19-21C

It all started with the whole gang swimming later into the season than usual. Here we are at Meech Lake, Sept 26. Chilly, probably about 19-21C (67-70F), but we each managed between 3-4 laps around the island (2400-3200m) without getting cold. It was sunny, a little breezy, but no one experienced chills or other issues with rewarming. Sweet: beautiful day, great swim, new group record!

At around this time, I had made a crack via email about swimming even further into the end of season, suggesting we try for October 3rd as a target for our last group swim. There was some eye rolling (I don’t know this for a fact, yet I’m very sure), but for a few people, it stuck. Vampire Swim was also becoming a reality for Ottawa by this point, so it made sense for anyone wanting to participate to keep going, so…

Saturday, October 3rd 2015 – Meech Lake 16.6C

…here we are at Meech on the morning of October 3rd. Water temp was 16.6C (62F), nippy air, moderate wind. I swam 3 laps of the island, 2400m. It was absolutely fantastic, the chill of the air and the water across my skin made it so I could feel every single movement through the water more profoundly, every breath more deeply. Recovery was smooth, I was chilled, but no cold or painful parts.

Sunday, October 4th 2015 – Britannia Beach 14.7C

Diane couldn’t make the Saturday swim, so we headed to Britannia Beach the very next day. The water was a couple of degrees colder, which I guess makes sense as it’s the Ottawa River, the water is in movement and more exposed to the elements, whereas Meech is a bit more insulated by the tree line. Air temp was 8 degrees, light wind, we both managed about 20-25 minutes. It was fun, I was kinda pumped to try slightly colder water!

Sunday, October 25th 2015 – Britannia Beach 9.4C

At this point, I was pretty much hooked on the idea of continuing to swim into fall/winter, so I started doing more research on water safety and the impact of cold on the human body. We decided to move our swims to safer grounds; Meech Lake was fun, but relatively far from emergency services should anything happen. We decided to give the Windsurfer’s Cove another try. It turned out to be the perfect locale for continuing cold swims – sandy bottom, water fairly shallow, about 35-40m across, and the stone barriers at each end of the cove help keep us corralled within a set space, creating great visibility for spotting one another out on the waves. 15 mins, water 9.4C (49F), 27km/h winds, lots of whitecaps, a total blast!! It was a bit of a drop from my last swim, so I didn’t push it, and got out after 15mins.

About 4-5 windsurfers and kite surfers were using the cove as a launching off point as well, fully outfitted in dry suits, looked like a lot of fun. One of them commented we made them feel ‘soft’ for swimming in just suits. Compliment noted, thank you. Wind made a huge difference in getting dressed on the beach afterwards, my hands got cold really fast once I was out of the water. Got me thinking about finding ways to stay warmer afterwards…

The following weekend was Vampire Swim, you can check it out here. We’re actually still swimming outside as winter slowly creeps into Ottawa, and by now we’re in water temps as low at 2.7C. I’d rather go into those particular swims in greater depth, so I’ll leave you here and we’ll catch up later. Happy cold swimming, brrrrrrr!

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